“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
Christians have struggled with the issue of war for centuries. Before Jesus arrived on the scene, all good people wrestled with war and the existence of evil. Thankfully, the Bible is not silent on the subject.
Before we examine war, though, let’s look at the God of Peace.
One of God’s primary attributes is peace. Isaiah said the Messiah would bear these names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). God longs for all people to live in peace. That is how He created the universe – in total peace and harmony.
Christians are to be people of peace.
One of the most notable biblical commands to live in peace is in Romans 12:18: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
With the Bible clear on our responsibility to live peaceably, it seems that there would be no reason to ever go to war. However, if one depends on the Bible as a guidepost for living, it is readily apparent that war is sometimes a necessary option. In fact, just as there are numerous references to peace in the Bible, there are frequent references to God-ordained war.
Many present-day pacifists hold Jesus as their example for unvarying peace. But they ignore the full revelation concerning Jesus pictured in the book of Revelation 19, where He is depicted bearing a “sharp sword” and smiting nations, ruling them with “a rod of iron.”
Moreover, the Song of Victory in Exodus 15 hails God as a God of war: “… The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.” And, as the verses that open this column indicate, there is indeed a time for war.
God actually strengthened individuals for war, including Moses, Joshua and many of the Old Testament judges who demonstrated great faith in battle. And God destroyed many armies challenging the Israelites. I Chronicles 14:15 describes God striking down the Philistines.
God even gives counsel to be wise in war. Proverbs 20:18: “Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.”
Today, America continues to face the horrible realities of our fallen world. Suicide bombings and terrorist actions are beamed live into our homes daily. This serves as a constant reminder of the frailty of our flesh.
It is apparent that our God-authored freedoms must be defended.
Throughout the book of Judges, God calls the Israelites to go to war against the Midianites and Philistines. Why? Because these nations were trying to conquer Israel, and God’s people were called to defend themselves.
President Bush declared war in Iraq to defend innocent people. This is a worthy pursuit. In fact, Proverbs 21:15 tells us: “It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.”
One of the primary purposes of the church is to stop the spread of evil, even at the cost of human lives. If we do not stop the spread of evil, many innocent lives will be lost and the kingdom of God suffers.
Finally, some reading this column will surely ask, “Doesn’t the sixth commandment say, ‘Thou shalt not kill?’”
Actually, no; it says: “Thou shalt not commit murder.”
There is a difference between killing and murdering. In fact, many times God commanded capital punishment for those who break the law.
We continue to live in violent times. The Bible tells us war will be a reality until Christ returns. And when the time is right, Jesus will indeed come again, ending all wars.
Until that time, however, Christians must live as Galatians 6:2 instructs: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”